Feedback – what about the receiver?

October 18th, 2010

A while ago, I commented on the gift of giving feedback. Yet, one of the common “problems” when giving feedback is that it isn’t received in the manner you intended it. So, before you give that gift, consider the other person …

Positive feedback

  • Will this help to make them feel better or might they be wary of what’s coming next? Maybe their past experience they’ve only received positive comments when there’s been negative at the same time.
  • Is now really the best time? Are you / they in a rush?
  • How self-aware and confident are they? Will they brush it off as “nothing” and “others did more”? Will they REALLY hear the message? Make sure you have all the specific information to help them understand what you are saying.
  • Watch for embarrassment or arrogance and decide what is best for you to say now.
  • Give the feedback in private and then add a public “thank you”.
  • If you are the recipient and you aren’t in the right frame of mind, then say so. Ask the other person if you can discuss it a little a later – set aside a time and find a quiet space.
  • Say “thank you” and ask for more details if they aren’t very specific.
  • Be proud and positive about what you’ve achieved, without being arrogant.

Constructive criticism AKA Negative feedback

  • Is now the best time? Soon enough without being right after a bad “event”. Is the person beating themselves up about a mistake? Maybe they don’t need your feedback, but might need help in making changes.
  • Are they oblivious to the issues or reasonably self-aware? The more aware they are, the easier it is get them to reflect on the situation by asking questions. If they really don’t know what the problem is, the questions may not help.
  • Be specific – this will help you to stay objective and be consistent in the way you deal with issues and people.
  • Watch for the downbeat “it’s all my fault” “I keep getting things wrong” or the person dismissing it as unimportant or a one-off. It’s unlikely that anyone is always wrong or never wrong – is there another issue?
  • Give the feedback in private, stay calm and make sure you deliver the message and it is heard. The other person needs to understand the feedback in their terms and agree what they are going to do about it – whether that’s purely on their own or with your support.
  • If you are the recipient and you aren’t in the right frame of mind, then say so. Ask the other person if you can discuss it a little a later – set aside a time and find a quiet space.
  • Listen to the comments and ask for more details if they aren’t specific. Most of us don’t work in a vacuum and you will know if there’s something of an issue even if you’re not sure of the details. As much as any situation may not all be down to you, you only have responsibility for yourself and what you can do better next time, even if others don’t.
  • Think about what you need to do differently and, if you need help or support, ask for it, whether that’s weekly discussion or a reminder email or some specific training or coaching on the skill areas.
  • Say “thank you” and remember that if someone doesn’t value your relationship and your work, they won’t bother to tell you what the problem is.

If you would like to discuss feedback skills within your team and how to help people develop as givers and receivers of feedback, please contact Sue Cohen by phone or email, as you prefer:

M: 07971 400653
T: 020 8953 6477

One Response to “Feedback – what about the receiver?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sue Cohen (nee Kaye), Sue Cohen (nee Kaye). Sue Cohen (nee Kaye) said: Much has been written about giving feedback, but what about receiving it? Let me know your thoughts […]

  2. Tweets that mention » Feedback – what about the receiver? Sue's views -- on October 18th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

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